Although their role might be somewhat obscure to the wider world, transport managers are crucial to keeping the wheels of industry turning. Without them, supply chains would grind to a halt. Given the amount of responsibility involved, therefore, there are several key qualities involved in becoming a transport manager.
- Good personal management skills, maintaining strong working relationships with both drivers and clients
- Excellent communications skills
- The ability to handle large workloads, and juggle various tasks simultaneously
- A keen eye for detail
Becoming a transport manager also comes with a wide range of responsibilities, such as:
Arranging driver training and debriefing
- Dispatch management, organising delivery schedules and route planning
- Ensuring that vehicles are inspected frequently and action taken when repairs are needed
- Maintaining good relations with clients
- Ensuring compliance with applicable laws (for example, environmental and vehicle safety regulations) and keeping abreast of new legal developments affecting the transport sector
- Maintenance scheduling
- Purchasing vehicles, managing running costs and vehicle replacement cycles
Q: What experience is beneficial to becoming a transport manager?
A: Many of those people who succeed in winning transport manager jobs have worked their way up from other roles in the transport sector, including operators, administrators and drivers. Others get into the profession through studying and obtaining a relevant qualification, in areas such as transport management, supply chain management, business management or logistics. A foundation degree, Higher National Diploma or full degree in one of these subjects is likely to prove helpful in securing places on management trainee schemes. Those candidates who have previous experience in management or team leader roles are likely to be at a particular advantage when it comes to obtaining transport manager positions.
Q: What role do transport managers play in driver training and safety?
A: Transport managers are central to the planning of driver training, which in turn forms an integral part of fleet management. The role of driver training is essential in creating a safe driving culture throughout the entire workforce, and underlining the importance of road safety. This needs to take the form of continual training and development, with careful and consistent monitoring of driver performance. Safety analytics allows for more comprehensive and exact assessment of the way drivers behave while on the road than ever before. For example, it captures all speed limit violations and provides managers with event alerts (for which they can set the criteria, whether it’s speeding, cornering, braking and so on). This hard data helps in identifying both individual problems and weaknesses shared across the workforce, and can then be incorporated into the appropriate driver training and development programmes.
Q: What is the transport manager CPC and what does it involve?
A: To obtain a Standard or International licence, fleet operators are required to employ a transport manager with a valid Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). Essentially, operator CPCs are qualifications that provide would-be employers with evidence that the holder is capable, skilled and knowledgeable enough to handle all the responsibilities that come with being a transport manager. Though they are not a requirement for fleet operators with a Restricted licence, it is nevertheless recommend that they do likewise for compliance purposes. Obtaining an operator CPC is a significant undertaking in its own right. It requires passing several examinations, including a case study and multi-choice paper. Once an operator CPC has been gained there is no need to renew it periodically, but transport managers are required to keep up to speed with legislative changes affecting fleets.
Q: What role do transport managers play with regard to tachograph records?
A: It is transport managers’ responsibility to ensure that accurate tachograph records are made and that they are available for inspection whenever requested by authorities. For analogue tachographs, transport managers should maintain a register of charts issued to and returned by individual drivers; though this is not a specific legal requirement, it will make it easier to identify instances where drivers have failed to hand in a tachograph record. For digital tachographs, transport managers must ensure that records are kept. They should make sure that downloads of digital tachograph records and vehicle units are undertaken regularly. Where analysis of tachograph records uncovers anomalies and infringements, these must be formally raised with the driver concerned.
Q: What are Traffic Commissioners and what powers do they have?
A: Traffic Commissioners oversee regulation and licensing of firms operating heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches, as well as the registration of local bus services. It is their job to ensure that fleet operators and their employees meet the requisite standards. This means that they have considerable power over transport managers, including the power to impose bans on those considered to be failing in their job. These bans can be in definite in the most serious cases. However, Transport Commissioners will work with transport managers who raise concerns directly with them, and will help to ensure that these are addressed. It is therefore essential that transport managers are candid and upfront with Transport Commissioners wherever issues affecting their ability to do their job arise.
Q: What technologies are transport managers expected to use or have knowledge of?
A: A solid grasp of the relevant technologies is essential to becoming a transport manager. The most important technology above all here is telematics, which is used not just for the purposes of vehicle tracking, but much more besides. This includes routing, maintenance scheduling, licence checks, and monitoring both driver and vehicle performance. Telematics provides a comprehensive, broad-based solution to the crucial challenges facing the fleet management profession. A good understanding of telematics systems and how they work is therefore indispensable for any aspiring transport manager.